1597 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1597th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 597th year of the 2nd millennium, the 97th year of the 16th century, and the 8th year of the 1590s decade. As of the start of 1597, the Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
- January 24 – Battle of Turnhout: Maurice of Nassau defeats a Spanish force under Jean de Rie of Varas, in the Netherlands.
- February – Bali is discovered by the Dutch explorer Cornelis Houtman.
- February 5 – In Nagasaki, Japan, 26 people are martyred by crucifixion. They practiced Catholicism, and were taken captive after all forms of Christianity were outlawed the previous year.
- February 8 – Sir Anthony Shirley, England's "best-educated pirate", raids Jamaica.
- March 11 – Amiens is taken by Spanish forces.
- March 18 – Tycho Brahe's stipend is stopped.
- March 29 – Tycho Brahe leaves Ven and moves to Copenhagen (Farvergården).
- April 4 – Christian Friis and Axel Brahe go to Ven to check complaints, and a commission is established to investigate Tycho Brahe's leadership.
- After April 10 – Serb uprising of 1596–97 ends with defeat of the rebels at the field of Gacko (Gatačko Polje).
- April 22 – The vicar of Ven is dismissed: he had followed Tycho's orders not to perform an exorcism.
- April 23 – Probable first performance of William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor.
- April 27 – Johannes Kepler marries Barbara Muhleck.
- June – Tycho Brahe is not allowed to make observations from The Watermill Tower, and he is not allowed to perform chemical experiments at his house in Farvergade.
- June 1 – Tycho writes a recommendation supporting Longomontanus, who is planning to study in Germany.
- June 2 – Tycho leaves Copenhagen and goes to Rostock.
- June 10 – Tycho is removed from his job working at Epiphany Chapel in Roskilde.
- June 16 – Tycho flees, and becomes a servant of the king of Spain.
- c. July – Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson's satirical play The Isle of Dogs is performed at the Swan Theatre in London; it is immediately suppressed by the authorities and no copy survives.
- July 10 – Tycho Brahe's famous letter to King Christian IV is sent from Rostock.
- July 14 – Scottish poet Alexander Montgomerie is declared an outlaw, after the collapse of a Catholic plot.
- August 13 – The Siege of Namwon begins.
- August 14 – First Dutch Expedition to Indonesia: A Dutch expedition commanded by Frederick de Houtman returns to Amsterdam, after having successfully reached the Spice Islands. This achievement opens the Spice trade, which had until then been monopolised by the Portuguese, to the Dutch, who in the next years launch several more expeditions to the Indies.
- August 17 – Islands Voyage: Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Sir Walter Raleigh set sail on an expedition to the Azores.
- August 19 – Rheinberg capitulates to forces led by Maurice of Naussau.
- August 24 – Christian IV of Denmark refuses to let Tycho Brahe return to Denmark.
- August 28 – Imjin War: Battle of Chilcheollyang – The Japanese fleet defeats the Koreans, in their only naval victory of the war.
- September – Tycho Brahe leaves Rostock, where plague is spreading, and travels to Wandsbæk.
- September 25 – Amiens is retaken from the Spanish by Anglo-French forces, led by Henry IV of France, after a four-month siege.
- October – John Gerard, a Jesuit priest, escapes from the Tower of London.
- October/November – The 3rd Spanish Armada is dispersed by a storm; a number of Spanish ships are captured off the coasts of Wales, Cornwall and Devon.
- October 20 – Tycho starts new observations in Wandsbæk, where he writes his famous elegy.
- October 26 – Battle of Myeongnyang: The Koreans, commanded by Yi Sunsin, are victorious over a Japanese invasion fleet.
- November 12 – Lingen capitulates to forces led by Maurice of Nassau.
- December 15 – Johannes Kepler writes a letter to Tycho about his book, Mysterium Cosmographicum.
- December 31 – Tycho writes his preface to the Emperor Rudolf II in his book, Mecanica.
- January 12 – François Duquesnoy, Flemish Baroque sculptor in Rome (d. 1643)
- January 25 – Johann Philipp, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, German Duke (d. 1639)
- January 31 – John Francis Regis, French Jesuit priest (d. 1640)
- February 24 – Vincent Voiture, French poet (d. 1648)
- March 1 – Jean-Charles de la Faille, Belgian mathematician (d. 1652)
- March 10 – Ercole Gennari, Italian drawer and painter (d. 1658)
- March 18 – Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière, French nobleman, founder of Montreal and an order of nursing Sisters (d. 1659)
- March 21 – Juan Alonso y Ocón, Spanish Catholic prelate, Archbishop of La Plata o Charcas (d. 1656)
- March 27 – William Hyde, President of English College, Douai (d. 1651)
- April 9 – John Davenport, English Puritan clergyman, co-founder of the American colony of New Haven (d. 1670)
- April 13 – Giovanni Battista Hodierna, Italian astronomer (d. 1660)
- April 23 – Alvise Contarini, Italian diplomat, nobleman (d. 1651)
- May 13 – Cornelis Schut, Flemish painter, draughtsman and engraver (d. 1655)
- May 15 – Squire Bence, English politician (d. 1648)
- May 25 – Veit Erbermann, German theologian (d. 1675)
- May 31 – Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, French author (d. 1654)
- June 9 – Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Dutch painter (d. 1665)
- January 29
- February 2 – James Burbage, English actor
- February 5 – Paulo Miki, Japanese Catholic saint (b. 1564)
- February 6 – Franciscus Patricius, Italian philosopher and scientist (b. 1529)
- February 16 – Gilbert Génébrard, French Catholic archbishop (b. 1535)
- March 6 – William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham, English noble and politician (b. 1527)
- April 16 – Caspar Cruciger the Younger, German theologian (b. 1525)
- June 6 – William Hunnis, English poet
- June 8 – Barbara of Hesse (b. 1536)
- June 9 – José de Anchieta, Spanish Jesuit missionary (b. 1534)
- June 18 – Markus Fugger, German businessman (b. 1529)
- June 20 – Willem Barents, Dutch navigator and explorer (b. c. 1550)
- July 8 – Luís Fróis, Portuguese missionary (b. 1532)
- July 19 – Gunilla Bielke, Queen of Sweden (b. 1568)
- July 20 – Franciscus Raphelengius, Dutch printer (b. 1539)
- July 22 – Gabriele Paleotti, Italian Catholic cardinal (b. 1522)
- August 27
- Won Gyun, Korean general and admiral during the Joseon Dynasty (b. 1540)
- Yi Eokgi, Korean admiral during the Joseon Dynasty (b. 1561)
- September 3 – Jakobea of Baden, Margravine of Baden by birth, Duchess of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (b. 1558)
- September 20 – Archduchess Gregoria Maximiliana of Austria, Austrian archduchess (b. 1581)
- September 30 – William I, Count of Schwarzburg-Frankenhausen (b. 1534)
- October 4 – Sarsa Dengel, Emperor of Ethiopia (b. 1550)
- October 19 – Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Japanese shogun (b. 1537)
- October 23 – Cyriakus Schneegass, German hymnwriter (b. 1546)
- October 27 – Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, Italian noble (b. 1533)
- November 1 – Edward Kelley, English spirit medium (b. 1555)
- November 11 – Gustav of Saxe-Lauenburg, German noble (b. 1570)
- November 6 – Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain (b. 1567)
- December 17 – Frederick, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Vohenstrauss-Parkstein (b. 1557)
- December 21 – Petrus Canisius, Dutch Jesuit (b. 1521)
- date unknown - Margaretha Coppier, Dutch heroine (b. 1516)
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